Mr and Mrs Woolliams

Article on Mr and Mrs Woolliams stirs fond memories - Steve Worsley

I was delighted to see on our Kingham Hill Schooldays web site that the immeasurable contribution of Mr.& Mrs. Woolliams to so many of us old boys has been recently encapsulated and documented.

I hugely enjoyed this well written and thoughtful contribution and account and cannot adequately reiterate Mr. Nick Thomson's sentiments and observations. We will always be hugely indebted for their tremendous passion, enthusiasm, kindness and sincere concern for our well being and futures. (And they were both good fun as well!).

Nick's account very ably put into perspective why Mr. Woolliams was so successful in his career and profession. Not necessarily with the high fliers, who would have got there in any event, but the weaker students who had a miniscule of latent potential. He indeed identified and understood the subtle and salient difference between learning and understanding. I went to Tech and University and learnt huge volumes. However, it has taken me my whole career to gain an understanding and make some sort of sense of it all.

How we enjoyed his practical demonstrations, many of which would be banned now in terms of current H&S legislation also being applied equally in schools!. The pummeling of his fists together to show the molecular activity of a material being heating was very significant. He would track the progress from solid to liquid to gaseous states. He would deliberately pause in the acceleration of his pummeling action as the material transcended its latent heat of fusion and vapourisation phases. By vapourisation his fists would reach a furious crescendo literally flaying together in a wild arc. Years later I was to witness first hand the massive thermal energy leverage effect of ice due to its latent heat of fusion as it transits from the solid to liquid phase. This phase we exploited to extract huge amounts of heat from Western Deep Levels gold mine, which at two miles deep remains the deepest mine in the world.

I also clearly remember his hovercraft demonstration as well as many others. He also had us make pin hole cameras to demonstrate the convergence and divergence of light. He had us measure the height of a tree using a protractor modified with sights and a plumb bob. Not only did it this give us the rudimentary understanding of trigonometry (Tan ? = Opposite / Adjacent. TOA were the initials of Mr. Woolliams maths teacher at school!) but it also demonstrated the principle of a simple theodolite.

The other key to Mr. Woollliam's success was his shear, raw passion. Although Mr. Thomson was not on the Hill in Mrs. Woolliam's day, I remember her well as both our San Matron and as our House Mother. A more sincere and kinder soul you just could not meet. She was so very good to us and we were all extremely fond of her.

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